President Donald Trump is likely to take a major step against the Iran nuclear deal in a speech on Friday, marking a more aggressive approach to Iranian activities in the Middle East that risks complicating US relations with European allies.
Trump is to lay out his plan in a 12:45 p.m. speech at the White House, the product of weeks of internal discussions between him and his national security team.
US officials said Trump was expected to announce that he will not certify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which he has called the “worst deal ever” believing the agreement is not in the national interests of the United States.
Trump has found himself under immense pressure as he considers de-certifying the deal, a move that would ignore warnings from inside and outside his administration that to do so would risk undermining US credibility.
He had certified it twice before but aides said he was reluctant to do so a third time.
The step would not withdraw the United States from the deal but would give the US Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under an agreement that was negotiated by the United States and other world powers during the administration of former President Barack Obama.
US House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul told Reuters that he thinks Trump “is likely to not completely pull out of the deal, but decertify compliance.”
International inspectors say Iran is in compliance with the nuclear accord, but Trump says Tehran is in violation of the spirit of the agreement and has done nothing to rein in its ballistic missile program or its financial and military support for Hezbollah and other extremist groups.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said on Thursday the US approach toward Iran is to work with allies in the Middle East to contain Tehran’s activities.
“We have footprints on the ground, naval and Air Force is there to just demonstrate our resolve, our friendship, and try to deter anything that any country out there may do,” Kelly told reporters.
European allies are warning of a split with the United States over the nuclear agreement since they are benefiting economically from a relaxation of sanctions.
A variety of European allies, including the leaders of Britain and France, have personally appealed to Trump to certify the nuclear accord for the sake of allied unity.
“It’s imperative that Europe sticks together on this issue,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told the RND German newspaper group.